Rishi Sunak refuses to commit to lobbying India PM over jailed Scottish man Jagtar Singh Johal

Rishi Sunak refused to commit to lobbying Narendra Modi on human rights as he pushes for an Indian trade deal in his meeting with the country’s leader.

The Prime Minister did not answer when asked if he would directly raise the plight of British man Jagtar Singh Johal, who is facing the death penalty in India, when he meets Mr Modi today.

He said foreign secretary James Cleverly and junior ministers had raised Mr Singh Johal’s case repeatedly, but refused to say he would lobby Mr Modi at the highest level during bilateral talks at the G20 summit in New Delhi.

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Mr Sunak told reporters on the plane to the G20 summit in New Delhi: “I’ll be raising a range of things with Prime Minister Modi.

“This is something that, just so people are reassured, has already been raised on multiple levels on multiple occasions.”

Mr Singh Johal, a Scottish blogger who campaigns for Sikh rights, was abducted on a visit to India in 2017 and faces eight charges of conspiracy to murder, which campaigners say are politically motivated.

Mr Sunak has attempted to play down suggestions that a UK-India post-Brexit free trade deal will be signed imminently, although both sides are keen to make rapid progress.

Downing Street has already made it clear the Prime Minister will not liberalise visas for Indian citizens in an attempt to get a deal over the line.

Mr Sunak refused to comment on whether he could accede to any Indian demands to exempt temporary workers from the country from paying national insurance in the UK, which would cost £500 million, as they are not able to access the same public services as British citizens.

Such a move would bring India into line with exemptions given to US and Canadian citizens.



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